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Infant Tooth Mutilation Practice in Africa

Posted by drg. Ardyan Gilang Rahmadhan SKG. On 12:24 AM

baby tooth
There are mistaken belief in much of eastern Africa such as Uganda, Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that tooth buds are worms. They believed that these "tooth worms" are parasitic and fever-causing and must be taken out.

How do they taken this tooth buds? Primitive methods of gouging out baby teeth includes knives, bicycle spokes, fingernails or any instrument on which they can lay their hands. This mutilation practice is often carried out by village healers for a fee. It is also performed by parents, community elders and even midwives. The tragedy is that they believe that they are helping to cure the child.

Instead of being healthy, infants often suffer from future facial disfigurement, damage to the gums and the permanent teeth following the removal of their health deciduous teeth. In one region of Uganda, infant deaths due to septicaemia and other infectious diseases, following IOM, are reported to be second only to malaria as a cause of infant mortality.

One of dental charity Dentaid's major drives is to bring to the attention of the western dental world to this shocking and barbaric practice of infant oral mutilation (IOM).

Andy Jong explains, ‘It is a shocking practice and Dentaid is committed to working towards ways of eradicating this. We have a very active IOM action group and we're testing some educational resources in the field and building up a map showing incidences where this has been observed.'

He adds, ‘One of the most serious problems of IOM is that the misdiagnosis of “tooth worms” as the cause of the illness means missing the real reason that the child is ill. Many illnesses that could be cured if caught early on may well cause much more serious illness or potentially death if left undiagnosed and untreated.'
baby tooth

More recently, there have been several reports of children being presented in Western clinics, raising the question of this practice potentially occurring in migrant populations.

Source: Tooth worms and mutilation

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